Nate has always improved after a trip. Maybe it’s the new location, maybe it’s the new situations. Regardless, it never fails.
We just returned from our week in Chicago “in honor” of Nate’s upcoming 20th birthday. Outside of the usual events: toilet pictures, pizza dinners and new stores, two unusual and noteworthy occurences took place.
Our good friends in Riverwoods have twin five-year-old daughters. Beautiful kids, and quite a handful. Last December, one of them had a huge tantrum which left an indelible mark on Nate’s psyche. When it was happening, he was trying to find things to make her happy. It was a show of empathy that was impossible to imagine just a few years ago.
This year, the two bundles of energy took to playing/harassing Nate. The girls are deep into Toy Story 2 and there are plenty of Woody and Jessie hats around the house. Incessantly, they planted the chapeaux on Nate’s head, and he went along with it.
“Aaargh! Stop it!,” he yelled playfully.
He also laid on the floor with one of the sisters and they played together with her Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Nate loved those wooden models when he was younger.
He had fun too. When we left, he said with great humor, “I hope they don’t kill me this holiday season.” We’ll be back in December.
Two days later, we went to a cookout in Arlington Heights. One of my best friends has a two-year old daughter, and their house is filled with toys, played with and unopened. She had a brand new Little Mermaid Big Wheel, still boxed. Karen and the girl’s mother sat with Nate and attempted to assemble the plastic contraption. Nate took over. He read the directions, followed them intently and put the trike together by himself.
That part isn’t so spectacular. Nate has a lot of skills. What was amazing to Karen is that Nate happily endured the constant kisses the chubby faced baby planted on his cheek. This is the same Nate that used to shrug his shoulders in a panic if I placed my hand on him. Now, he willingly shared in the joy of the moment. It was a huge leap forward in interaction.
We met up with Phyllis Kupperman of the Center for Speech and Language Disorders. She co-founded the organization and was Nate’s therapist for years. More importantly, she is an important part of our family. Phyllis brought me an envelope stuffed with Nate’s session notes, which I can’t wait to read. As usual, Phyllis imparted a bit of real wisdom.
As we sat in the backroom of Cosi on Michigan Ave., Phyllis said all human beings continue to grow. Why not Nate?
Why not indeed.